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What are the Causes of Vitamin K Deficiency?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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Vitamin K is an important nutrient that promotes blood clotting and helps to preserve bone density and vascular health. When an individual lacks sufficient amounts of the vitamin, he or she is at risk of developing severe health problems. There can be several causes of vitamin K deficiency, including malnutrition, the overuse of antibiotics, and a number of different diseases that affect body's absorption of nutrients. An individual who believes he or she is suffering from a deficiency should consult a physician, who can make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the most appropriate medication or treatment plan.

Many people suffer from vitamin deficiencies as a result of poor dietary choices. Vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale, turnips, peas, and onions are all rich in vitamin K. Other foods with high vitamin K contents include noodles, eggs, and whole wheat bread. It is important for an individual to consume such foods on a fairly regular basis to prevent a vitamin K deficiency and the related health risks, including heart problems and excessive bleeding.

Antibiotics that eliminate harmful substances in the body can also affect the helpful intestinal bacteria that aid in vitamin K production. Overuse of certain prescription or over-the-counter antibiotics can quickly result in a vitamin K deficiency. Antacids designed neutralize heartburn and stomach acids can adversely impact intestinal bacteria. Vitamin-K forming bacteria need an acidic environment to survive and reproduce, and frequent antacid intake significantly disrupts natural acid in the stomach and intestines.

Several different diseases can contribute to vitamin K deficiency. Yeast infections, cirrhosis, leukemia, lupus, and hepatitis are all linked to vitamin K shortages. Crohn's disease is also known to cause significant mineral and vitamin deficiencies in afflicted individuals. Certain diseases that cause blockages in bile ducts are detrimental to vitamin K levels, as excess fat gets trapped in the body and prevents the absorption of nutrients.

There are several treatment options available to an individual with a vitamin K deficiency. Simply consuming more vitamin-rich foods and engaging in daily exercise is enough for people with mild nutrient deficiencies. Ingesting foods and supplements with high concentrations of probiotics can stimulate the activity of vitamin-producing bacteria in the digestive system. In a severe case of vitamin K deficiency, a doctor may administer an oral or intravenous medication to restore vitamin levels in the blood. When all other treatments fail, a patient may need to undergo a plasma transfusion to replenish vitamin K and restore the blood's ability to clot.

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Discussion Comments

By Vaclav — On May 14, 2011

I wonder what would cause vitamin K deficiency in a newborn?

My newborn nephew was diagnosed with this last week. Does anyone know what could cause it?

By DFMeyers — On May 11, 2011

My aunt had a deficiency of vitamin k. She had a doctor that would prescribe antibiotics for everything--colds, the flu, etc. Since antibiotics should only be used for bacterial infections, giving them for colds and other viruses is overuse. This overuse caused her deficiency.

She went to another doctor who gave her a vitamin K shot. She also told my aunt to get more vitamin K containing foods in her diet. The new doctor also said that she would not prescribe antibiotic in the future unless she had a bacterial infection.

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